Expert and fire officials warn of unsafe ice in North Bay-area
CTV News

The official kick-off to the ice was Jan. 1 and the ice fishing season is underway but a local angler and fire officials are encouraging excited fishermen to delay putting their shacks on the lakes, citing unsafe ice.

Steph Leroux is an avid angler and knows all about ice, having been ice fishing since he was a young boy.

With a chisel and tape measure, he was checking the thickness and strength of the ice of Lake Nosbonsing. Only two days ago, he snapped a photo of an ice shack that fell through.

Leroux told CTV News that the owners of the hut that fell were okay.

"We need at least four to five days of -20º to firm it up properly,” said Leroux.

“You don't know what you're walking on.”

"That hut was put out on Dec. 22 before Christmas,” he said.

“People are anticipating a really good season this year because of the mild temperatures but they are jumping the gun. You can't be taking those kind of chances."

North Bay Fire & Emergency Services is warning people to check the ice before stepping foot on any lake as a batch of mild weather has weakened it.

For example; on one side of Lake Nosbonsing, there are a few huts are standing on a thin layer of ice. However, the other side shows a whole different story; open flowing water.

“I've got reports that the ice is only an inch to two inches thick up to four, five or six inches thick,” said North Bay Fire Chief Jason Whiteley.

“Anything less than two inches, you should stay off the ice.”

Firefighters as part of the city’s ice and water rescue unit had to save two people who plunged through lake ice into the freezing waters last year.

They have certain levels they consider safe for people to use.

"A minimum of four inches for ice fishing or walking activity, five to seven for snowmobiles, eight to 12 for small cars," said Whiteley.

"Huts I’d say eight to 12 minimum and 12-15 for larger vehicles.”

With two shacks of his own, Leroux said he has no intentions of dragging his shacks onto the lake until about mid-mid-January,n he will check the ice's thickness again before towing them out.

He says he is not willing to take the risk of losing a shack or even worse, his life.

"The fish will still be there,” he said.

“It's not worth it. It's just worth it."


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